Time for a new Project – Inspiration for the Starflake MKAL

Stephen West is teasing us again! It’s that time of year for a Mystery Knit Along or MKAL for short. Stephen West has been delighting and bewildering knitters for years with these ever so exciting MKAL’s. This one is the 10th Anniversary MKAL and called Starflake so I’m hoping for something exciting. This time we are just looking at two colours, four 100g skeins in total and Stephen specifies a plied yarn in contrasting colours and yarns that have crisp definition. So as usual I’ve had a fun afternoon picking out colour combos for fantasy projects I would love to knit. Oh, if only I had the time! He also recommends solids, semi-solids and slightly speckled yarns, so the design details don’t get lost. The fun starts on 4th October so you have plenty of time to pick your favourite colours. But to help you along take a look at these!

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A good tip if you are looking at colours and wondering if you will get a strong contrast or a subtle one. Use your camera phone and switch the settings to mono or black and white. That way you will be able to differentiate more easily between darker and lighter colours rather than be bombarded by the colour itself.

I have picked from a selection of plied yarns like Garnsurr Søkke Merino, Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply, Hey Mama Wolf Sockyarn #04, Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock and Kettle Yarn Beyul. These sturdy yarns are wonderfully soft but crisp enough to hold great definition and I love mixing and matching them together.

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Cool Breeze – This combo conjures up a cool spring breeze blowing over the sea. Combining both Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Lekje and Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Sea Glass to create a nice contrast but also keeping the palette quite fresh.

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Lemon Curd – A really zesty combination in all Garnsurr Søkke Merino. We have here Seivin and Jønnstaur creating a real striking contrast. Bright, sunny and full of life.

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Blueberry Muffin – This combo looks so tasty, I love Hedgehog Fibres Silence colour as a base for other colours. The natural, subtly specked Hey Mama Wolf’s Sockyarn #04 looks perfect next to it. Colours here are Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Silence and Hey Mama Wolf’s Sockyarn #04 in Carey

starflake-01 Raspberry Ripple – This combo gives a great contrast but also being quite complimentary. The solid rich pink playing against the pink speckles in the cream giving you a wonderful graphic palette. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Ørtle and Jarbaer.

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Sea Shells – A subtle contrast is created with these two rich tones. I like the idea of using a silk blend yarn, as you will get a gentle shine from where it’s used. Using two rich colours that are completely different but equally as dark will cause the colours to vibrate against each other. Of course there are gentle nods between this combo, as the blue has slightly purply, pink notes. Hedgehog fibres Twist Sock in Method and Kettle Yarn Beyul in Electric Amaranth.
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Bonfire – This warming colour combination uses a rich dark grey as a base. I love a dark grey to play colours against. You end up with an almost neon light effect in the dark. Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Smokey Joe and Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Gryteflaks #21. The Smokey Joe has a slight warmth to it that unifies this combination.

I’m looking forward to seeing all the combinations people knit up and I can’t wait to start!

Throwback Thursday: Växbo Lin Lingarn

Linen is back! Not a moment too soon… One of our go to summer yarns is Växbo Lin’s Lingarn, so this little Throwback Thursday post is here to celebrate it again. We have recently restocked on 22 shades of this gorgeous and unusual fibre. So in case you missed it, here is why linen is so great.

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Lingarn is a 100% natural pure linen yarn traditionally grown and spun in Sweden. Växbo Lin’s Lingarn is certified with the Swedish Good Environmental Choice label (Bra Miljöval) because of its durability and environmentally friendly processing.

The earliest trace of flax culture in the Swedish county Hälsingland is dated to circa 200 AD. Evidence from the Viking age indicates that women wore linen chemises under their woolen skirts. Flax has been grown for domestic use throughout Sweden. In medieval times there was a surplus of flax in Hälsingland and linen became an item of trade. In fact, linen rather than money was used to pay taxes and fines.

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Heres a little bit about how linen fibre is made from one of our earlier Fibre Fridays posts. ‘Linen comes from a plant called flax. Unlike cotton, where the fibre comes from a pod that the plant produces, linen is made from the inner stalk. This type of fibre is called a bast fibre. Other bast fibres include nettle, hemp and rattan. The plant is grown to a height of about 4 feet. When it is ready, the plants are pulled up from the roots and left to decompose in a process called retting. This unbinds the unwanted outer bark from the inner bark that makes the fibre. The two types of bark are separated by big metal rollers in a process called scutching. The fibre lengths are combed to find the longest fibres which are then spun into thread or yarn.’

Linen is a tough fibre that may feel stiff an unyielding at first, but the more you work it the more it softens. It is recommended winding linen by hand, as this begins the softening process, which continues the more you work with it.

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What Throwback Thursday would be complete without a look at projects past. Do you remember Maya’s Selja she knit last year? Selja by Jonna Hietala is knit top down holding two strands together on 5.5mm needles. A super speedy knit for a quick summer project. Maya chose the Umbra colour. To read more about Selja read Maya’s – What Maya Knits Blog Post.

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And a couple of summers back Natalie launched her design The Mirabeau Top! The Mirabeau is an attractive striped summer top with a fetching lace panel. Idea for summer holidays and evenings dining al fresco. Light and cool, with fun Breton stripes, allowing you an opportunity to play with colour.

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I also knit with linen earlier this year when I finished my Parachutey by Stephen West. It came very handy in the hot halls of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival where I wore it over a shirt and kept perfectly cool. I knit this one in Moss Green, Olive Green, Graphite and Lime.

So go grab your needles while the sun is still shining.

Marled Projects and more and how to stash dive with success!

We are all getting starstruck by all the marled and exciting patterns being released at the moment and a lot of you have been asking me for colour ideas and options for putting together great combos. Stephen West is at the forefront of marled designs at the moment. With patterns like the Marled Magic Sweater and the Marled Magic Cardigan. But a Marled effect can be added into any project. If you treat two strands of fingering/4ply held together as a worsted weight you are good to go and can apply a marl to any of your favourite worsted patterns.

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Marled Magic Cardigan by Stephen West

There are many ways of approaching a marled project. Do you start from scratch? Do you curate your stash and pull out colour themes? Do you chose one base colour to tie things together? Or do you throw everything you have at it? Well the possibilities are endless. What’s freeing about a marled project is that there really aren’t any rules. You can play with different fibres and to some degree different weights. You don’t have to stick to the same brand, but can go with your heart. Below I have put together some ideas and thoughts that you might find useful for your own marled projects.

Building a marled project from scratch

If you are looking to build up a selection of yarns and don’t have any stash lying around to throw into the mix, then this first section is for you.

I shall use the example of Stephen West’s latest Marled Magic Cardigan for this first marled section. This is how I would approach it, but everyone has their own take on things.  It is recommended you have between 750 – 1300g of yarn for this project with between 150 – 200g of each yarn to be used in the collar and cuffs. So here we go!

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Keeping it bright! You can almost approach a marled project like you would a faded project. But unlike a fade where you want one skein to blend into the next a marled project can be a little more extreme. With this one I have chosen the Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace – Plump and the Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #18 held together for the collar and cuffs. I’ve then picked some favourite colours starting with Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #19. I then let the skein decide where I go next. Plenty of speckles in these hand dyed’s give multiple avenues for combination. Which has led me to get quite nerdy about yarn!

Yarns pictured above, from left to right:

Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace – Plump, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #18, Gryteflaks #19, Sneivin,  Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Raku, Sorbet, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Preinas, Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Gossip, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #18, Hørningen,  Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Bubble, Deja Vu and then back to Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #18.

With this combination I was trying to evoke a feeling of the original colours.

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In the image I have broken down a section and shown how the colours link up. I feel working in this way would give a good framework to build up a selection of yarns. You don’t have to knit them in any particular order, but there is a thought process in the choosing, that helps you wade through the endless variety out there. There is infinite array of colour and colour combinations, but looking into the colour make up of a skein of yarn can really help when trying to find the perfect combination.

Starting on the left I have Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #18 with its reds to almost creamy, peachy orange. This colour is then picked out to link into Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Sorbet, which has a peachy base flecked with other colours. This technique is repeated by the end three, where pinks and greens unify them. But they also open up other colours, like blue and black. In this way you are building a selection of colours that focuses in on smaller details in the yarn as well as bigger ones. Allowing you to go on a journey of colour, that might lead to unexpected results.

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Keeping it mellow. In this combination I have really gone for a colour theme. You will end up with a more uniform marl, in a combination like this. Picking a colour family and playing around it is a fun way to work. It allows you the opportunity to work with your favourite colour, or not, if you want to push your boundaries. The more you look at a colour the more you will see how many colours lie within it’s boundaries, giving you a rich overall palette to play with.

If you are working in this way and sticking to a particular range of colours, I think it is important to choose plenty of light and darks. This way the combinations will remain interesting and not become to similar or dull. In the same way I think a few colour pops within a skein is a good idea. Like the yellow that appears in Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Æsjbikkje and the pinks and blues that appear in Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Hawk and Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Frevil / Shauparak. These pops will shine out in marled fabric, where a few zaps of contrast colour playing against a monochrome background.

Yarns pictured above, from left to right:

Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace – Cereal, Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply – Silver and Bronze, Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles – Scilence, Crystal, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Fonne / Bered, Æsjbikkje, Gryteflaks #10, Gryteflaks #10, Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply – Verdegris, Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Hawk, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #19, Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Cereal, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Frevil / Shauparak

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And because I like doing it, here is the colour break down for a section of this one. You can see the combination of lights and darks with a few little colour pops like the yellow and pink. It may even need something white/cream or a very pale blue to lift it slightly.

Using stash yarns and curating a colour theme

We all have a bunch of half skeins and end of project balls of yarn hanging around and a marled project is perfect for using these up, no matter what quantity you have. Even if you feel your stash is a little random and won’t go together there will be that perfect skein that will unite them. One way of getting around this problem is curating your stash into colour themes and families. I have tried this with parts of my stash below and mixed in various Knit With Attitude yarns. Any caked yarn or yarn in a ball in the below pictures are ones I have pulled from my stash, around which I have placed complimentary yarns I think work well.

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First up we have this pinky purple number. I am still with the idea of creating the Marled Magic Cardigan pictured at the beginning of this post. This cardigan has a contrast, or at least a very defined collar, cuffs and hem. To stick with the theme I have gone with Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace – Iris and Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply – Heavenly. They draw on the purple theme but keep it light, this way I hope they offset the body colours and make them pop.

I have some orange and pink and pinky oranges in my stash I didn’t think they would necessarily work in this project, until I saw the Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Annsam skein, perfection! Marled at different points in the project this will bring a nice theme of pink and orange, throughout. The deep purples in the middle really spoke to some of the purples I had in my stash along with a few creams. The pinks range from neon to a more muted dusky pink, complimenting and working with the pinks I already have.

I would recommend not knitting them in the order that is show in the image but chopping and changing throughout the project. This way colour themes will appear and disappear throughout the knitting. As it is marled you will then avoid getting clumps of a dominating colour and end up with a more even project.

Colours I have used around my stash from left to right:

Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace – Iris, Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply – Heavenly, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Annsam, Krilla, Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Plump,  Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Jarbær, Hey Mama Wolf – Sockyarn #04 Minis – Madder, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Ortle / Mihifar.

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I feel this one doesn’t need a colour break down, even though I enjoy making them. It’s green, oh green! If you haven’t guessed it’s my favourite colour. So my stash is full of it. We all have a favourite colour so naturally our stash is going to be full of it. Why not embrace that and indulge in your colour love. I’ve fallen in love with this combination, it’s like a mossy forest floor, I am so tempted to knit it myself.

With this combination you will end up with a very subtle fabric. Each colour melding into one another. Some say it is safe to go with the same colour, I say it’s well informed. With these combination I would probably make sure I was always holding a solid with a speckled, that way the solid gets enlivened by the changing colours of the speckle. But here there is a good combination of light and dark and it shows you the real variety you can get in a colour.

Colours I have used around my stash from left to right:

Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace – Parklife, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Preinas, Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Cereal, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Løpp, Kettle Yarn Co Beyul – Shrub, Garnsurr Søkke Merino – Gryteflaks #11, Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock – Parklife, Kettle Yarn Co Beyul – Jade

 

Using one colour to unite a random stash

Not all of our stash is coordinated and if you are desperate to use of every last scrap of those random ends of yarn then this method might be good for you.

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Choosing a colour that you think might tie a project together like this Coopknits Socks Yeah – Azurite in this one.  This way no matter how random your other pieces might be, there will always be one constant. Here I have pink, yellow, grey, green, purple! They may look random like this, but knit up the blue will catch the eye, bringing harmony to the project. With this selection you can further reinforce the theme by sticking to the same colour for collars and cuffs.

I’ve tried to illustrate this idea with the blue throughout, giving the marl a base colour which then brings unity to the other colours. It also means you can indulge in your favourite colour and let that be the colour that shines through the project.

I hope that you find some of these ideas of approaching a marled project useful. From building a collection of yarns from scratch, from curating your stash into colour themes or even uniting a random stash. Marled projects are a great way to use up leftovers but also great to let you branch out into other colours you might not necessarily use. These projects are about having fun, so get stuck in and throw everything you have got at it.

Time for a new Project – Inspiration for Texture Time

The whirlwind of a designer Stephen West (Wesknits) is doing it again. It’s his Mystery Knit Along! We have been obsessing with Colour and Texture here recently. Hand dyed yarn and something fluffy. Is there anything better! Stephen’s new pattern is called ‘Texture Time’. As this is a mystery we have no idea what it will look like, we just have the yarn requirements. Four skeins of a 4ply/Fingerweight yarn and then something Fluffy like a Mohair or Brushed Alpaca. We couldn’t be more excited about this new Mystery KAL! Especially since we have had a big restock of Garnsurr and have plenty of our firm favourites Hedgehog Fibres as well. There is also plenty of fuzzy, fluffy yarns to mix in, the possibilities are endless.

If you are finding it hard to come up with a combination, then below we have put together some fun ideas combining yarns we think will work well. Hopefully these will inspire you to brave the Mystery Knit Along.

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Keep the Summer going with this bright yellow combo. Featuring from left to right: Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Sneivin, Frevil/Shauparak, Gryteflaks #19 and Fonne/Bered. Hedgehog Fibres Kid Silk Lace in UFO.

02-texture-time-knit-with-attitude-INSTA-SQUAREThis cool and sophisticated option combines blues and purples. From left to right: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Method. Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Heavenly. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Marisup and Ulone. Du Store Alpakka Faerytale in Grey Blue 740.

03-texture-time-knit-with-attitude-INSTA-SQUAREThis hot combination is full of colour pops, one for the wild at heart. From left to right: Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Tesu, Gryteflaks #21 and Ansam. Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Pinky Swear. Hedgehog Fibres Kid Silk Lace in Heyday.

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Dreaming of the deep blue sea, what about these? From left to right: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Deep End, Beach Bunny and Fly. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Griug/Wakaca. Du Store Alpakka Faerytale in Turquoise 716.

05-texture-time-knit-with-attitude-INSTA-SQUAREMake your friends green with envy! From left to right: Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Sea Green. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Gryteflaks #11. Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Sea Glass. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Risgard. Fyberspates Cumulus in Bottle Green.

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This deeply devilish combo is rich and moody. From left to right: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Plump and Pheasant. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Hørningen and Jarbær. Fyberspates Cumulus in Magenta.

I hope you have found these ideas inspiring. We always love putting colours together. So grab your needles and yarn and let’s see where Stephen West takes us.

 

What Maya Knits – two shawls

Well, at the rate that I’m posting the ‘Maya Knits’ posts there is a danger you might think that this is a yarn shop owner that never knits, but I do, honestly, I do. It is just that I do have an issue with – and I’ll admit it – I do have an issue with finishing off. I simply hate weaving in ends! I know there are knitters out there who love this part of a project, but I’m clearly not one of them. If you are anything like me, my best tip is to do a few ends as you go. As soon as you are absolutely sure that you’re not going to have to rip anything back, weave in the ends, this is how I do it, most of the time.

And then there are occasions when I don’t, like with both of the shawls I’m about to show you. Both of these were done ‘ages ago’ and then abandoned in their zip lock bags, waiting for me to build the motivation to weave in their ends. I did get around to it though, eventually, and now I can finally post one of these posts again – proving what I’ve actually been knitting.

Maya's Homeward Bound

You might have noticed the Homeward Bound Shawl we released the pattern for last spring, it has had a bit of a momentum over at Instagram, if you do a search for #homewardboundshawl you’ll find quite a few progress and finished shawls pictures. This was a design collaboration with the very talented Natalie Selles and we were so excited about the result that the Knit with attitude staff have all made our individual versions, and this is mine!

Maya"s Homeward Bound

For the shop we curated three set of shades which are available as kits, they all work beautifully together, but if you feel a bit more adventurous you can get the Homeward Bound single pattern from Natalie’s Ravelry Store, and come up with your own colour way in the Socks Yeah! This is what I did, and the colours I chose are the 102 Ammolite, 108 Chryso, 109 Iolite and 114 Peridot. By the way – we just launched the six new autumn colours of the Socks Yeah! so there are lots and lots to choose from.

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My second shawl is The Color Craving by Stephen West, I found this pattern in his Westknits Bestknits – Number 1 Shawls. Although this shawl ended up like the size of me, it was really quick to do (until I came to the ends that is), the rows literally flew off the needles – what an incredibly fun knit!

I have to say, I was rather eh… experimental when coming to picking the colours for this one. It was a case of gorgeous hand dyes that looked so good when holding them next to each other as hanks, but that probably could have worked better in a different combo. I chose the Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in (a particularly dark batch of the) Poison, Oracle and Fool’s Gold. Half way though I realised that my speckled Oracle and Fool’s Gold didn’t have much contrast between them, and that my semi-solid Poison ended up quite dark combined with the other two brighter ones. I do believe that this design would probably benefit from being done in more solid colours rather than speckled ones. But what can I say, the knit was so exciting that I couldn’t stop – and I am pleased with the result, the shawl is super-soft, super-squishy and will keep me super-warm over the upcoming winter months – and that is three wins in one!

What Maya Knits – Askews Me Shawl

Every single yarn shop owner that I’ve ever met had their own passion for knitting as the main reason for starting their business adventure – and then they, like me, were struck by the bitter sweet realisation that although you spend every day surrounded by the most beautiful woolly temptations there never is any time left for you to knit! What happens then, is that your knitting time becomes very precious to you and you become very picky – and so it is only the projects that you love the most of all the amazing projects that are out there – those that you simply can’t live without – that are the ones that will finally find their way onto your needles.

If you follow our instagram (knitwithattitude) or any of the marvellous people that work here in the shop – Natalie (leeleetea) and George (georgeacullen) – you would have noticed  that we’ve had a Brioche craze happening between us. No surprise maybe – it seems like the whole knitting world is struck by this alluring technique these days – and I’m no exception.

The last year we’ve had some amazing publications delivered to the shop, by Nancy Marchant (Leafy Brioche) and Stephen West (Westknits Bestknits – Number 1 Shawls), to mention a few. And it was while flickering through the ‘Bestknits’ I fell in love – I fell hard – just look at this!

Askews Me Shawl

So this Christmas I actually managed to knit – and finish – something, my very own Askews Me Shawl!!! For my version I chose to use the Hedgehog Fibres Merino DK in Genie as my light colour, and John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers in 02 as my dark colour, I found that they were the perfect match – my shawl is so squishy, soft and comfy I would practically sleep in it.

Maya's Askews Me Right Side

Now, if you’d seen all those gorgeous projects popping up across the knitting community’s social medias and have thought you might want to try the Brioche yourself but at the same time felt intimidated by approaching this technique – let me encourage you to give it a go! I highly recommend Stephen’s patterns – they are so well written. All though I’ve dabbled in Brioche before (more on that in a blog post to come), when doing the Askews Me, I found myself encountering a few new techniques that I haven’t tried before – like the Two-colour cast on – but his instructions are so detailed and easy to follow it went like a breeze. Come on – give it a go!

I'm attempting Stephen's pose - but not half as gracious as the man himself...

I’m attempting Stephen’s pose – but not half as graciously as the man himself…

 

Book Review: WestKnits BestKnits Number 1 – Shawls

wkbk_cover_1024x1024Tis the season for knitting, and also for new book releases! We’ve got the first of what we hope will be an ongoing series from Stephen West, WestKnits BestKnits. It is subtitled Number 1 – Shawls, so hopefully there will be further titles in the future!

29011089976_345886507f_zThe book features 13 of Stephen’s most popular patterns. This book won’t make as much sense if you’ve been collecting them as they have been coming out, but a great investment if you have been eyeballing a few patterns. It also comes with a digital download code so you can have just the pattern you are working on with you instead of carrying the book around.

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Each pattern has been photographed and shown in multiple colour combinations in Stephen’s now iconic graphic style. The variations shown really highlight the variety of options available to knitters to personalize their finished pieces.

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For those of you looking to start your own WestKnits pieces, we just received our biggest yet shipment of Hedgehog Fibres! Loads of restocked colours, and plenty of new ones as well. 29011082476_9979d2dfc9_z